This week, Judge William Hooks is expected to issue a ruling that will have a profound impact on two families of slain Chicago Police officers. The ruling will determine if we can move on or will need to fight on in pursuit of justice for Chicago Police officers Richard O’Brien and Bill Fahey, who were fatally shot while making a traffic stop in February 1982.
Thursday’s ruling is so important to me because Bill Fahey was my dad. I was just 4 years old when he was taken away from me.
Jackie Wilson, who has already been convicted twice for his role in the murder of these two Chicago heroes, has sought a third trial and is claiming that his confession to this crime was obtained by coercive police officers. A judge will decide if a third trial will be held. I am well aware of these allegations and believe that no one should tolerate any kind of mistreatment at the hands of the police. All individuals, regardless of their guilt or innocence, are entitled to be treated fairly, humanely and legally. It is worth noting, however, that on three occasions Wilson’s claim of a coerced confession was reviewed by the courts, and every time it was denied.
The facts of this case, regardless of whether the confession was coerced or not, overwhelmingly demonstrate that Wilson and his brother (who is now deceased) are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. I understand that cases where the validity of confessions is in doubt deserve fair scrutiny. But in this case, there is ample evidence beyond an allegedly coerced confession to support the two prior guilty verdicts.
Two eyewitnesses place Wilson at the scene and saw him drive away, leaving two Chicago Police officers dying on the street. Wilson also confessed to and bragged about his role in this crime to numerous jail guards and his cellmate, who says that Wilson told him that when my father and Officer O’Brien pulled the Wilsons over, Jackie told his brother, “let’s take him.” And, long after he was out of CPD custody, Wilson bragged to guards and inmates at the jail about his role in murdering two Chicago Police officers.
The bottom line here is that justice in this case has already been served. To grant Wilson a third trial will only serve as an injustice to these fallen police officers, their families, the two juries that convicted him and, ultimately, to the truth.
I urge the judge, in determining his ruling, to weigh all the facts including evidence beyond Wilson’s confession, to be fair and to not allow today’s climate of police criticism to influence a 36-year-old murder case.
And finally, the judge needs to be aware of the heartache and anguish that the Fahey and O’Brien families will feel if they have to endure a third trial. We have been pursuing justice for these men for more than three very painful decades. We would like to move on but will fight on if we must.
Erin Fahey, who lives in the south suburbs, is the daughter of William P. Fahey, a 10-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department who, along with his partner, Officer Richard J. O’Brien, was slain on Feb. 9, 1982.